The Double Concerto for Violin and Double Bass by Giovanni Bottesini can provide an exciting surprise when two great musicians and friends decide to play it in a jocose competition.
Maurizio Turriziani and Loreto Gismondi can light up a night with their performance as they did during the Women’ Day Concert in Frosinone.
Lovers of string music know that the violin and double bass are placed in opposition on the left and right of the conductor. The trills and high notes of the violins soar above the stage as the deep tones of the double bass slide across the stage resting in the aisles.
So why would a composer place these two possibly antagonistic instruments adjacent, next to each other on the left hand of the conductor. It must have been a lover of the double bass, a virtuoso of this grand instrument seeking to share the violin’s position of power. Yes, it was Giovanni Bottesini, known as the Paganini of the Double Bass, an Italian double bass virtuoso and composer whose wonderful technique survives today among afficionados of the instrument.
It was the evening of International Womens’ Day in Frosinone that a concert was sponsored generously by the City featuring a string quintet and soloists of the double bass (Maurizio Turriziani), violin (Loreto Gismondi) and clarinet (Selene Malizia) from the Chamber Orchestra of Frosinone.
For the maybe two hundred who attended, the early evening selection of chamber music brought us progressively to the edge of our seats with surprising and exciting compositions and performances. The music was interspersed with repartee appropriate to the theme of the day, yet it was the final piece that lifted the audience onto their feet.
The ‘Gran Duo Concertante per Violino e contrabasso’ – Double Concerto for Violin and Double Bass is a work of about 15 minutes – a ‘work’ where the violin and double bass compete politely for attention and gradually share the stage, winking at each other as they grow to enjoy each other’s company. All backed by the orchestra playing ‘second fiddle’ to the virtuosity of the two soloists, the instruments build to a crescendo when it seems that the violin and double bass become lovers.
This is a piece of musical entertainment that can only be performed to its peak of excellence by artists who understand and respect each other and, as Maurizio and Loreto, respond to each other’s creativity and obviously enjoy the repartee.
I would thrill to see and hear this performance again. Youtube cannot compete, even from la Scala. Frosinone may have lost much of its great architecture in the war, but there is a soul in the city and its music more than makes up for that loss.